Fed up with student loans? Boomer-artists didn't have that problem, not with the Famous Artists School, a Westport, Conn.-based correspondence course for artists. Founded in 1948 "by Norman Rockwell and America's 11 Most Famous Artists," its faculty included Stuart Davis, Ben Shahn, Doris Lee, and Fletcher Martin, along with cartoonists Al Capp and Rube Goldberg. The FAS presented a democratic-capitalist view of art-making: Anyone could learn to be an artist, study the market, and rake in the $$$
. (Compare John Baldessari's Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell
). The school offered free talent tests that no one failed, and it initially charged $200 for a three year course. G.I. Bill was welcome.
The Famous Artist School lives on through its didactic materials, which still have a weird charm. If you come across them at a thrift shop, they're worth a look.
|The work of FAS co-founder Jon Whitcomb, recently on view at the Hilbert Museum, Orange, Calif.: Elegant Couple on a Dance Floor, 1951. The Hilbert Collection|
|A promotional photo of the Famous Artists School faculty. Norman Rockwell is standing at center in a bow tie|